High Speed Rail community meetings

The California High Speed Rail Authority is hosting Community Open House meetings on the range of alternatives being considered for the segments from San Francisco to San Jose. San Francisco to San Jose section is part of the first phase of California HSR, connecting communities from San Francisco and Silicon Valley to the rest of the state. The meetings will be identical in format and content. Some of the issues for review include:

  • Vertical alignment for the approach to Diridon
  • Passing track options, including how they will affect service quality for Caltrain
  • A train storage and maintenance yard proposed for Brisbane

The meetings will be held from 5:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. with a formal presentation starting at 6:00 p.m.

  • Mountain View – Tuesday, April 11, 2017 – Success Center – 875 West Maude Avenue, Unit 5, Mountain View
  • San Mateo – Thursday, April 13, 2017 – Silicon Valley Community Foundation – 1300 South El Camino Real, Suite 100, San Mateo

If you have questions, the High Speed Rail staff to contact are:

Ben Tripousis, ben.tripousis@hsr.ca.gov
Morgan Galli, morgan.galli@hsr.ca.gov

Via: greencaltrain.com

Caltrain Electrification Deferred

Background

Due to the success of our local economy, the peninsula’s rail link, Caltrain, has record ridership. Trains are often packed to capacity. The system’s ability to carry passengers is critical to economic growth and to mitigating road congestion.

Caltrain's booming ridership. Source: Wall Street Journal

Caltrain’s booming ridership. Source: Wall Street Journal

The system is overdue for upgrades that would improve its ability to cost-effectively carry passengers. Caltrain has been working to electrify the system since the 1990s. Electrification will allow Caltrain to run trains faster, more frequently, and at lower cost.

In September 2016, Caltrain signed contracts to carry out the electrification work. The contracts are contingent upon Caltrain funding the project by March 1, 2017. Without funding, construction will be postponed and the contracts will need to be renegotiated. Local, state, and regional funding is committed, but the Federal Transit Administration has informed Caltrain that federal funding is deferred until the President Trump’s Fiscal Year 2018 budget.

Current Status

Earlier this Month, California’s Republican delegation asked US Transportation Secretary Chao to deny the funding for Caltrain in hopes of blocking construction of High Speed Rail. The Federal Transit Administration has subsequently informed Caltrain that federal funding is deferred until the President Trump’s Fiscal Year 2018 budget.

Caltrain Modernization would create jobs Across the United States

Caltrain Modernization would create jobs Across the United States

Unless the United States Department of Transportation releases the federal portion of the funding by March 1, the electrification project will be delayed. 9,600 American jobs associated with this work will not be created. Local commuters will continue to pack into overcrowded trains, and our roads will see no relief for another half decade.

Call to Action

Actions you can take:

  1. Sign Caltrain’s White House Petition
  2. Send a Letter to Secretary Chao
  3. Call Secretary Chao and her career staffers:
    Elaine Chao (202) 366-4000
    Matthew Welbes (202) 366-4040
    Lana Hurdle (202) 366-6031
  4. Call Democratic lawmakers and thank them for their continued support:
    Anna Eshoo (650) 323-2984
    Zoe Lofgren (408) 271-8700
    Ro Khanna (408) 436-2720
    Kamala Harris (415) 355 – 9041
    Diane Feinstein (415) 393-0707
  5. If you have friends or family living in Republican-controlled areas of the state, explain this issue to them and ask them to contact their Congressional representative.
  6. Check out http://www.greencaltrain.com/2017/02/top-actions-to-save-caltrain-electrification/

Plan B?

Green Caltrain has a good review of what could happen if the funding does not come through. One prospect is to proceed with the project, but use slower electric locomotives instead of optimal “Electrical Multiple Unit” trains, which would limit the capacity increases otherwise possible through modernization. Our region could and should to follow the examples of Seattle and Los Angeles to pass a transit “megameasure” to fund our own infrastructure, but such an undertaking could not even begin until November 2018. Caltrain could perhaps be combined with BART, privatized, or underwritten by wealthy local tech companies.

UPDATE: Kim-Mai Cutler has published an excellent article on this topic with greater context and a wider call to action.

Take Action: Trump Administration Threatens Caltrain Electrification

California’s Republican delegation has submitted a letter to Federal Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao requesting that she cancel $647 million in funding for Caltrain electrification. The GOP delegation explains their intention to hold back the High Speed Rail project, but these specific improvements are badly needed by Caltrain to improve service for local riders. Bay Area representatives have followed up with their own letter to Secretary Chao explaining the need for this funding to be preserved. This issue is explained in detail on the Green Caltrain site.

Call to Action: Green Caltrain would like as many folks as possible to submit emails to Secretary Chao via this link: http://org.salsalabs.com/o/741/p/dia/action3/common/public/?action_KEY=21065